The San Jose Sharks still haven't solved their scoring issues, but solid defense has helped key their best stretch since the beginning of the season.
They thrived on both ends of the ice in their first meeting with the Calgary Flames.
Visiting San Jose seeks a seventh victory in its last nine matchups versus Calgary on Wednesday night.
The Sharks' 4-1 season-opening victory over the Flames on Jan. 20 began a seven-game winning streak, during which they outscored opponents 27-12. They've scored only 19 non-shootout goals since, though, going 4-6-4.
San Jose (11-6-4) hasn't scored more than two non-shootout goals in its last 11 games, including Tuesday's 3-2 shootout win over Vancouver. Scott Gomez and Adam Burish netted goals in regulation before Joe Pavelski scored the shootout winner.
Despite their lack of scoring punch, the Sharks are 3-0-1 in their last four.
"Our four guys that score a lot weren't even on the board tonight and we still found a way to win," coach Todd McLellan said of Pavelski, Joe Thornton, Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau. "That's a real positive sign for our team."
Antti Niemi made 36 saves to improve his goals-against average to 1.83, though backup Thomas Greiss could get the start in the second of a back-to-back. Greiss didn't fare well his last time out, allowing six goals in a loss to Columbus on Feb. 11.
Though it's uncertain who will be in net, the Sharks' power play unit clearly needs work. San Jose has gone 5 for 66 with the man advantage over its last 16, but the Flames still believe they'll be in for a tough challenge.
The Sharks went 2 for 6 on the power play in the season opener, with Marleau scoring one of his two goals in a 5-on-4 situation.
"They're good up front on the power play so for us it's going to be about disciplined play," said forward Alex Tanguay, who leads the Flames with 17 points.
Sloppy play was evident in the season opener due to the lockout as some players experienced long layoffs from game action, and Wednesday could see more fluid play with the season in full swing.
"The first couple games of the year were a bit scrambling," Flames defenseman Jay Bouwmeester said. "Hopefully we play a lot better than we did last time."
San Jose is 6-1-1 in the last eight meetings with Calgary, which is 3-1-1 over its last five after Sunday's 4-2 win over Vancouver.
Jarome Iginla scored for the fifth time in his last four games for the Flames (8-8-4), who had lost two straight. They'll be seeking their fourth consecutive home win Wednesday before playing six of their next eight on the road.
Goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff hasn't played since spraining his MCL against Detroit on Feb. 5. He practiced Tuesday, but coach Bob Hartley said he hasn't been cleared for game action.
Joey MacDonald, who is 3-3-1 with a 3.05 GAA since being claimed off waivers from the Red Wings, could get the start Wednesday.
"Winning games should be our top priority right now - whoever plays in goal, whoever plays center and whoever sings the national anthem," Hartley said. "We're right there, but we're not in the (place) that we want to be in. We have some major steps to take."
San Jose has been outscored 21-10 while going 2-5-1 in its last eight road games.
The Associated Press News Service
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